Even though leaf blowing is a chore, I actually enjoy it. It’s a simple, meaningful task, which can be done without much effort and has a satisfying result. Using the power of wind, feeling the kickback on the nozzle, seeing the leaves pile up one by one, onto an enormous pile. But then what?
I mean, that just seems like a waste of perfectly good leaves…
For years, I have been doing this wrong myself – I’ve just bagged them and off they went, into the trash can. What a mistake!
Leaves have some quite useful properties, such as their ability to hold moisture, insulate heat and non-negligible nutritional value. This makes them useful in many ways, of which I will discuss five.
A Word on Mulching
Garnish Your Flower Beds
As mentioned above, leaves are great at retaining moisture and double as a heat insulator. Every year in nature, fallen leaves cover the soil and slowly decompose, helping preserve and fertilize whatever grows under them. So why not use nature tricks in your own garden?
We recommend adding a layer of leaves or leaf mulch on top of the soil of your flower beds. Lawns can be covered as well, though we recommend doing that with mulch.
After all, covering your lawn with leaves would defeat the point of leaf blowing or raking in the first place. However, keep in mind that mulch is not recommended as a substitute for soil. It’s only a garnish.
Composting – the use of decomposed, organic material, for soil improvement, or even as a biofuel (opens in a new tab), has seen somewhat of a comeback in the past two decades. As any biodegradable material, leaves degrade to compost easily, which results in a healthy, environmentally friendly soil conditioner.
Adding this compost to your soil improves its properties and nutritional value, as does any synthetic fertilizer. However, compost is free and can be made in bulk, on your own yard.
How to go about it? Learn more about composting here (opens in a new tab).
Leaves Are Great for Storing Root Vegetables
You may have seen this trick at the farmer’s market, or at your favorite local organic store – root vegetables can be stored in dried leaves. This is not a modern invention, just for the sake of amusing shopping hipsters. Our ancestors have been doing this for millennia. Why? Protection, insulation and, of course, it also looks neat.
One of the ways to do it is by filling a wooden box or barrel with whole, dried leaves and inserting your vegetables separately in between their layers. Some sources (opens in a new tab) mention that leaves should be sprinkled with water, yet we recommend against this idea, to prevent mold.
Interior Insulation With Bagged Leaves
Insulating sheds, coups or barns can be expensive, which means that most people don’t bother and just hope for the best.
However, to replace glass wool, a very easy and cheap insulation method is placing bagged leaves or leaf mulch around the walls of your interior, for cheap, but quite effective insulation (they keep the heat in, or out).
While we do not recommend filling your living room with bags of leaves, this method is perfect for the aforementioned chicken coups, barns and garden sheds, since chickens and shovels aren’t bothered by unaesthetic bags of leaves laying in the corner.
Make Your Own Scarecrow
Even though scarecrows have been shown to not actually scare off crows – in fact, crows are one of the smartest animals out there; scarecrows serve to this day as great decoration, and will look great in any garden. It is also a great DIY project, enjoyed by folk regardless of their age.
Traditionally, you would use hay as scarecrow filling, but there really is no reason to be picky about the whole business and use leaves instead!
If you’re not sure how to go about the whole scarecrow thing, fear not and refer to this guide (opens in a new tab).
I hope this article will be both fun and helpful. I’ve encountered many stupid, or impractical ideas while researching this piece, which I’ve done my best to avoid including. The above-mentioned tips are solid, doable and actually useful.
In the end, those leaves are there for free, and you’ll have to do something with them anyways. So why wouldn’t you put them to good use?
What do you usually do with the dead leaves? Let us know in the comments below!